Thursday, March 4, 2010

Queen Elizabeth II gives State Banquet in Honor of President Zuma - Neither English Sparker nor South African Wine Served

Picture: Queen Elizabeth II, left, stands with South African President Jacob Zuma, his wife, Thobeka Mabiba Zuma, and Prince Philip, during a ceremonial welcome for President Zuma on London's Horseguard's Parade, Wednesday March 3, 2010. President Zuma is on a three day State visit to Britain.(AP Photo/Dominic Lipinski, pool)

South African President Jacob Zuma is in London. On March 3, Queen Elizabeth II gave a banquet in President Zuma’s honor at Buckingham Palace.

You would think that the Queen served South African wine and English sparkler. No, she did not.

South Africa is one of the emerging wine countries in the world. Since the political upheaval of 1994, South Africa wine industry has experienced a tremendous growth and South African wines have become very popular, including in the UK.

Currently there are 481 private wine makers in South Africa, 59 wine cooperatives, the KWV, two dozen wholesalers that buy up grapes from wine growers and make wine, and just under 4,000 wine growers. These wine makers and growers are located in five regions and 21 areas (districts). The five regions are: the coastal region, Olifants River, Little Karoo, Breede River Valley and Owerberg Boberg (only for dessert wines from Paarl Tulbagh).

White wine is still in the lead with a bit more than half of the vineyards planted with white varieties, down from 75 percent a few years ago. There has been a significant shift in favor of red wine varieties, reflecting increasing demand for the international varieties Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. But Pinotage, which is a native grape of South Africa, also shows an upward trend. This crossing between Pinot Noir and Cinsault is increasingly becoming a kind of national grape for South Africa. Among the white wines, Chenin Blanc is the front runner, followed by Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

The South African success story is based on exports. Currently, around 400 million liters of wine are exported. This is more than half of the total production. The most important export market is the UK, followed by Germany.

As for the choice of sparkling wines, the English sparkler Nyetimber's Classic Cuvee 2003 was crowned champion of worldwide sparkling wines in the 2nd annual "Bollicine Del Mondo" competition in Verona, Italy, a few months ago, impressing judges more than sparklers from French legends such as Bollinger, Pommery and Louis Roederer. This is clearly part of the changes that are going on in the global wine market. New wine countries are emerging. They are emerging for two reasons. Some of them are benefiting from climate change as the northern border for wine growing is pushing up. Others are emerging countries and with the general economic expansion, the demand for wine and the production of wine is also going up. England is a prime example of an emerging wine country because of climate change.

The UK now ranks a lowly 63rd on the list of the world’s wine-producing countries, but Nyetimber confirmed what many experts have been saying for some time: UK sparkling wines can compete internationally.

South African President Jacob Zuma and Queen Elizabeth II neither had a South African wine nor an English sparkler. Instead, it was all French, except for the port wine at the end of the dinner.

The state banquet
* Pavé de Saumon Glamis
* Noisettes d'Agneau Narbonnaise; Courgettes Jaunes et Vertes Sautées; Pommes Forestière; Salade
* Sablé aux Pommes de Sandringham
* Fruits de Dessert
* Les Vins: Pol Roger, White Label Brut Réserve NV; Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru, les Referts, Louis Jadot 2002; Château Lynch-Bages, Pauillac 1986; Louis Roederer 'Carte Blanche' Demi-Sec NV; Royal Vintage Port 1963

After dessert, the guests were treated to a Royal Vintage Port, laid down in 1963 to celebrate the birth of the queen’s youngest son, Prince Edward. Pol Roger champagne flowed throughout the evening.

Whether by accident or design, President Jacob Zuma , who has married five times and currently has three wives, was seated next to Camilla Parker Bowles, once Prince Charles’ controversial mistress during his marriage to Diana and now his wife. On the other side was Queen Elizabeth II. Practically the entire royal family was present. Prime Minister Gordon Brown was there, along with half the British Cabinet too. Prominent South Africans who attended included the 12 Cabinet ministers in Zuma’s official delegation, as well as a number of prominent South Africans living and working in the UK, such as footballer Aaron Mokoena.

For his opening meeting with the Queen and Prince Philip on Horse Guards Parade, Mr. Zuma wore a long coat and black suit. In South Africa, the 67-year-old often greets dignitaries wearing the traditional Zulu dress of leopard skin loincloth and shield.

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

Wine Event: The Wines at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Award in Oslo in Honor of President Obama

Wine Event: The Wines served at President's Obama State Dinner of the Indian Prime Minister

Wine Event: Wines served at the 2009 Nobel Prize Banquet in Stockholm

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